Merry Christmas for the Ocean: The UN voted a resolution on December 24th to launch negotiations concerning the High Seas! To celebrate this and other victories for the Ocean, we propose a summary of the main decisions and commitments taken in 2017 to preserve the world’s oceans.
1 – The Ocean Conference. The first United Nations Ocean Conference took place in June 2017 in New York, with massive participation of nations and civil society. For the first time an event entirely dedicated to the Ocean took place in the general assembly hall of the UN. We want to say “It’s about time!”
2- Sustainable development objectives. With the Ocean Conference, state and civil society co-sponsors mobilized to advance the commitments for Sustainable Development Goal #14 dedicated to the Ocean. To support the various objectives (marine protected areas, sustainable fishing, preservation of ecosystems, etc.) hundreds of commitments have been made by NGOs, countries, private sector and multilateral agencies.
© Vincent Hilaire / Fondation Tara Expéditions
3 – A special envoy for the Ocean. The UN Secretary General has confirmed the appointment of a special envoy for the Ocean. Inspired by the successful work of special envoys on other issues such as food, the General Assembly endorsed the appointment of Fijian Ambassador Peter Thomson as “Special Envoy for the Ocean”. This decision follows a call for greater clarity and political will to advance ocean-related issues within the UN system.
4 – Governance of the High Seas. The Intergovernmental Conference: Biodiversity on the High Seas was confirmed by the UN General Assembly in December, following the decision taken by the preparatory conference last September. Starting in September 2018, negotiators will focus on drafting a binding treaty to set rules for sustainable management and conservation of biodiversity beyond national jurisdictions. On December 24th, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution that will allow these negotiations to begin.
5 – Recognition of Ocean and Climate in the Climate Convention (UNFCCC). With Fiji’s presidency of the COP23 on climate change, for the first time nations are calling for an UNFCCC “agenda item” on the Ocean. The proposal for an “Ocean Pathway” in the Climate Convention was presented in Bonn last November and supported by many countries. This decision follows the mobilization made at the COP21 in Paris by the Ocean and Climate Platform, which succeeded in including the Ocean in the text of the Paris Agreement.
6 – Success of the “Our Ocean” conference. In addition to the official United Nations meetings, the “Our Ocean” conference launched in 2014 in the United States by John Kerry continues to develop and has become an important annual event for the Ocean community. In 2017, the conference was hosted in Malta by the European Union which mobilized thousands of participants and became an important event in the mobilization of civil society and international media.
The Tara Expeditions Foundation is committed to advancing the recognition of the Ocean in climate talks, increasing support for Ocean research and its funding, and many other challenges that we will be happy to share with you in 2018!
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